Thursday, May 29, 2014

You're Right, I Didn't Eat That

"The second best thing about fifth grade," writes Alana Massey, "is that nearly without exception, everyone in it is a hybrid monster sitting precariously on the border between childhood and adolescence which results in them doing uncomfortable things like still playing with Barbie but making her have multiple abortions." You see why I'm eager to share her work here, oui? Funny as her blog, Oh It's Just Awful, may be, it's her keen, pensive eye on human behavior that draws readers in. A graduate of New York University and Yale Divinity School, Alana has seen her work published at The Baffler, Religion Dispatches, Nerve, Jezebel, xoJane, Forbes, and more. Follow her on Twitter here.


I’d only dropped a couple of sizes but I was in an entirely new country.

There are a number of euphemisms for female thinness that do not require a man to make the impolite admission of his exclusive attraction to women with very little body fat. Though “active” and “full of energy” make respectable showings, they are a distance second and third from “a woman who takes care of herself.” It seems a benign enough request, but one quickly learns that this man is not especially concerned that she has regularly scheduled self-care sessions like time with friends or spa days with a good book. He isn’t asking that her household finances be in order and that she be self-actualized. He is asking her to be thin. When he says “herself,” he means “her body.” 

I am not especially bothered by men who desire thin women. They are just as susceptible to messages that these are the women that they should find most attractive as women are to messages that they should look like them. The more troubling kind of man has a caveat about a woman’s thinness. She must not be “obsessed” or “overly concerned” with it. Or at least not visibly so. She mustn’t always order salads or freak out when she doesn’t make it to the gym. Watching her eat a cheeseburger—or better yet, a steak—even oddly enthralls him. (I’m sure there’s a Freudian explanation about the appeal of watching big things go into small ones for that but I haven’t found it yet.) An Instagram trend of thin women posing with calorie-dense foods that functions partly to appeal to this desire has even made headlines recently as the “You Did Not Eat That” account has gained popularity. But the impulse to pretend is understandable. For a thin woman to betray the reality of her diet and regimen for staying that way would spoil the fantasy of a woman who is preternaturally inclined to her size rather than personally preoccupied by it. 

Men seeking this woman are not seeking a carefree attitude as much as they are seeking a biological anomaly. For the majority of women, being thin is something with which she must be overly concerned in order to achieve and maintain it. Being effortlessly thin is no more achievable through a charmingly carefree attitude than becoming green-eyed or double-jointed. And while naturally thin women exist, of course, their numbers cannot keep pace with the number of men that desire them. And so we must be overly concerned as quietly as possible. 

At a size 0 and a low BMI, I am frequently told by men, “I can tell you take good care of yourself.” This was not something I heard much for most of my adult-sized life when I was a few sizes larger. I was average and proportional. I worked out regularly and ate reasonably well. But I was never thin. And then in my mid-20s I had the good fortune to react to a breakup not with overeating or bad rebound sex but with exercise. Lots of it. And homemade juice. Lots of that too. Mostly that, really. Bones and sinew emerged. I got a thigh gap, that bizarre and coveted beauty feature defined by absence. The number on the scale dropped, then dropped more.

And though I never had trouble getting a respectable amount of romantic attention, at a size 0 it rushed in at such a volume and with such enthusiasm that it was difficult not to be taken aback. I always thought it was a melodramatic cliché when thin women said that the more they disappeared, the more visible they became, but it was now undeniable. Male acquaintances suddenly wanted to spend more alone time together. Compliments during sexual encounters that were once full of the word “beautiful” became dominated by mesmerized declarations about me being so “little” and “tiny.” Men suddenly felt comfortable telling mean-spirited jokes about overweight women and lamenting how poorly other women took care of themselves. I’d only dropped a couple of sizes but I was in an entirely new country. 

Covert concern about my body is easy to maintain in the dating phase of relationships. Men will touch a particularly small or toned part of me and remark, “Wow, you must work out.” Upon confirmation that I do, the most frequent reply is, “So what do you do, yoga?” It is generally safe to assume that such men have never practiced yoga. Yoga, in the minds of many straight men, is a placeholder for light but effective exercise done primarily by women. It is a sanitary practice, a form of exercise uncontaminated by sweat or gender-neutral footwear. Something that pretty girls do three times a week in flattering pants. But while the benefits of yoga are tremendous, it cannot turn overweight or average bodies into tiny ones. Real yoga—as opposed to cardio routines that borrow heavily from it—cannot create the calorie deficits required to be thin thin. Real thinness requires something much more brutal. 

For naturally average or heavy women, maintaining a thin physique means making a constant and careful calibration of physical activity and consumption. Too much caloric intake that isn’t rigorously accounted for with exercise produces undesirable weight gain. Too large a calorie deficit backfires with a slowed metabolism. Strength training causes more calories to burn while at rest but too much produces a muscled look, literally hard evidence that this is not the thinness of a carefree woman. It is not just a matter of what you eat and burn but also of making sure you’ve planned sufficient time for both, carefully anticipating social engagements, unforeseen late nights at the office, and illness. It is deeply disordered but not quite diseased and because the aesthetic is desirable when it only borders on worrying, it is presumed the result of good care. 

“What do you do?” women will often ask, perhaps in the hope that initiation into the secret society is by invitation from existing members. I have found that three syllables followed by an exclamation point is the most optimal response to deflect attention from the reality of your regimen. Lean protein! Barre method! Kale salads! Neurosis! Even if I were to neutrally report what I must really do, the overt concern would be evident by the sheer number of precautions and actions that must be taken on a daily basis. “Diet and exercise” can be used as deceptive shorthand because it doesn’t actually mean anything at all.

“Can’t you just skip the gym this once?” a man asked as he tugged at my forearm from the bed on a Saturday morning and remarked on the merits of brunch. The night before, he had remarked on the merits of the prominent female clavicle. I smiled and pulled away, saying I signed up for a class that required 90 minutes advanced notice for cancellation. Maybe next weekend? I did not say that I could not because I skipped the gym Thursday to console a friend. I did not say that I had already splurged on grapefruit juice instead of my usual seltzer the night before. I did not say that I would double my cardio all week in anticipation of not being able to ask what my food was cooked in or to have egg whites in front of him at brunch the following week. I wouldn’t want to bore him with the details of scheduled spontaneity.

“Come on, you don’t need to get any skinnier!” another man declared after I declined food during a camping trip where everything seemed to come either on a potato bun or drenched in mayonnaise. I didn’t mention that four days away from the gym was already dangerously close to compromising my progress. I didn’t scream, “Vacation is where skinny goes to die!” or any other troubling quote I had read on the many Tumblr accounts blurring the line between motivation and beratement. He knew that I had not always been this thin yet treated my getting that way as a single event that could not be undone, like getting past the age of 25 or earning a Bachelor’s degree. I wanted to tell him that getting thin was not terribly difficult, but that staying that way is another thing entirely. I wanted to say that as a complex living organism, the human body is on for twenty-four hours a day, ready to betray you at an astonishing speed for minor transgressions if you do not respect its hypersensitivity to what goes in and out of it. But that would sound so obsessed.

As relationships advance, romantic partners become visibly disappointed and even annoyed that maintaining thinness is not a matter of a quick jog and 100 crunches. When he goes to find a refrigerator staple like butter, I can claim I simply ran out the first time but I must eventually admit that I don’t keep it in my home. My getting up to run eight miles the morning after sleeping together is admirable in the beginning but becomes frustrating when it means he almost always wakes up alone. I fool no one when I claim that really, this salad made of translucent iceberg lettuce is my favorite menu option at the diner. Meals are never skipped but they are rarely thoroughly enjoyed either. Despite taking care never to mention the cycle of calculating, scheduling, and calibrating, there is a mountain of damning physical evidence.

The revelations are slow but they come. A calorie tracking mobile app has better real estate on my smartphone than my calendar. The sudden realization that I’ve never been “that hungry” when we go out. The suspicious number of claims I make about simply not liking universally popular foods. I’ll let the cable bill wait but my gym membership is on time, every time. But these symptoms do not aggregate into the appearance of a disease but rather, into a certain temperament. It makes them exclaim, “Relax!” rather than, “Get help.” The level of control the symptoms reveal hovers close to illness but doesn’t cross far enough over the line so as to become sad, merely unattractive. And it is easier to walk away from someone who is unattractive than someone who is sad.

Once on a first date, a man remarked on the dishonesty of online dating profile pictures and said, “You know this girl showed up and I thought, ‘What did you do, eat the girl in the pictures?’” He was not the first to make such a remark but I was so ambivalent on the possibility of seeing him again and it wasn’t even a good fat joke that I said, “I don’t like that joke. I used to be fat.” “Fat” was an exaggeration but “fatter” wouldn’t have put me in evident solidarity with this duplicitous overweight woman. Eyes that had been looking at me affectionately all evening became fearful and he asked, “Do you think you’ll ever gain it back?” Flattering as it can be to know that a man has already considered our long future together all the way into “ever,” I was mostly appalled at the transparency of the question. I considered the life expectancy of healthy women and the statistical probability of me having children and nodded my head. “Yeah,” I said, refusing to add, “But not anytime soon, I’m totally and completely obsessed with staying thin now that I know that the world is handed to me on a silver platter.”

It is the moments when they realize that thinness is so impermanent, a constant struggle against a metabolism and genetic composition that you’ve breathed sinister life into that they are disappointed. Realizing that thinness could easily be sabotaged by illness, injury, or age seems a strange revelation to have for people who also occupy human bodies but it seems a revelation nonetheless. So what I’ve been more disturbed to realize is that it is not the habits themselves that are unattractive, but their clear necessity. Watching me order kale all the time isn’t the hard part, it is realizing every time I do that the alternative could be disastrous. And so they seek a more carefree woman who possesses either enviable genetics or professional expertise at disguising her weight-related diligence. Someone who does not force them to confront the reality that her body can and will change.

And so I have become increasingly up-front that for me, it takes an enormous effort to stay small. That it takes up my time and energy and by extension, might end up taking some of theirs as well if we are together. I assure them that I want to stay that way more than I want anything else so not to worry too much about me “letting myself go.” Romantic relationships are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the rewards of thinness. But I let them know that when it comes to me being thin and carefree about it, they can’t have their cake and eat it too. But that they’re more than welcome to mine.


Edit: This is the first in a series on bodies and romantic relationships. For more entries, click here


  1. This is wonderful. I went to through a period in my early 20's of being very, very thin and it opened my eyes to this reality. Sure, there are some women who are naturally built very thin, but most of them just. don't. eat. Now when I see someone at a size 0 or 2 I know that she has probably hasn't eaten a "normal" meal in at least six months. It was astonishing to discover this truth.

  2. these symptoms do not aggregate into the appearance of a disease but rather, into a certain temperament. It makes them exclaim, “Relax!” rather than, “Get help.” The level of control the symptoms reveal hovers close to illness but doesn’t cross far enough over the line so as to become sad, merely unattractive.

    You know, it's funny (well, not really), because as I read this post - and before I got to the part where you make this point - I started thinking to myself, "I'm reading about someone with an eating disorder." Not because you are a size zero, but because of the behavior and thoughts you describe in your attempt to maintain it (the outcomes of which are often rewarded, as you point out, provided you don't go "too far"). I don't say that as an attack on you; plenty of women I know have had them, myself included. And like you, many of them/us have had them in ways that passed to the outside world as perfectly normal. Admirable, even. Just thinner than usual. And with a better sense of self-control.

    Like I said, I'm not saying this to attack you, or even to urge you into recovery. I know that you can't make someone eat who doesn't want to, and I also know that you can't diagnose people you don't know (or even that you do know). But although I'm sure it wasn't your intention in writing it, I found this post triggering, and I suspect that other people who are susceptible to eating disorders will too. So for them, I had to jump in and say something: that just because this post describes something that probably doesn't fit the medical definition of anorexia, doesn't mean it is cool, healthy or great thing to do to yourself. Again, probably not what you intended, but in a society that valorizes thinness and fragility, many will read it that way.

  3. In response to both Rachel above and this post, I too read this as the writing of someone with a hidden eating disorder. I don't think you wanted my pity, but you got a bit. I want to hug you and feed you, none of which would be welcome or useful, I realise. I have been thirty pounds overweight, normal healthy weight, and a bit skinny as a growing teen. I don't recall any different treatment from others at any stage but definitely I didn't feel good about myself in the thirty pounds overweight stage. That had more to do with where the extra weight goes than the fact that I carried it. I also didn't feel good as a skinny teenager.
    I have mixed feelings about this concept of triggers for people with eating disorders. If we are going to obsess about them then nobody can say anything or talk about their own experiences which seems like just another way of shutting people up. People with eating disorders are responsible for sorting out their own issues, perhaps with the help of close friends or family members but I don't think all the rest of of us have a responsibility not to say something that might trigger or support their problems.

    Thank you for being brave enough to share your story, if indeed bravery is what it took. I hope you can stay healthy even if you can't shake your diet and exercise excesses and I hope you can find some better men because they aren't all like the ones you seem to have dated. Someone will love you as you no matter what you weigh and simply want you to be at your healthiest.
    I love your writing and your honesty on this blog. I'm a fairly new follower and this may be my first comment. I wish you all the best.

  4. Thank you Shawna, for putting some of what I meant to get across with my comment better than I did! I certainly don't think Alana should have held back in her post because what she had to say might trigger people, and I don't even think a trigger warning would be helpful in this case. I suppose as I was reading I was just waiting for an acknowledgement that the behavior and ways of thinking Alana was describing were not desirable or ideal, and I was surprised when that never came. But this is an essay about Alana's experience, and obviously if she does not feel that way, she is under no obligation to write that simply in order to be PC.

    And plus one million to all of this:

    I hope you can stay healthy even if you can't shake your diet and exercise excesses and I hope you can find some better men because they aren't all like the ones you seem to have dated. Someone will love you as you no matter what you weigh and simply want you to be at your healthiest. ... I wish you all the best.

    Alana, I think your essay does a great job of pointing out the hypocrisy with which we expect women to be effortlessly thin, and the effort that goes into achieving that appearance for many (although not all) women. But I also think that it is deeply sad that so many of us feel like we need to go to those extremes in order to be loved or found worthy. No matter how seductive the apparent rewards.

  5. I read this with equal parts empathy and alarm. I know this dance all to well, and have been in the same exact place as the author. However, I also ended up in rehab for disordered eating and thus feel compelled to comment both on the bizarre social stigma that weight *carries* as well as the danger of this mindset. I applaud your honesty but I am hesitant to get on board with your final statement

    "And so I have become increasingly up-front that for me, it takes an enormous effort to stay small. That it takes up my time and energy and by extension, might end up taking some of theirs as well if we are together."

    That statement is not a get out of jail free card - it's an admission of severely disordered eating and an obsession with your weight. I can only hope and pray that at some point you allow yourself to be healthy without the male gaze playing so heavily into your perception of yourself.

    My weight oscillated a good 20 pounds down and back up over the course of my 11 year courtship with my fiance (now husband) and you know when he liked me the best? When I was HAPPY. And you know when I got happy? Once I stopped obsessing about being super thin.

    It's still a struggle for me, but nowhere near the day-to-day of calculating and fearing and worrying that anything more on me weight-wise would take away from my whole person.

    Any man who is only drawn to you after you achieved the holy grail of a size 0 is suspect in my book. Cuz here's the cold, hard truth: We all age, metabolisms change, jobs take precedence over gym time, and being thin becomes less attractive - not only on aged women, but to you as you age.

    Do you want to remember your 20-30's as struggling with your body, or do you want to take a risk and find that sometimes a hamburger on a potato bun with mayonnaise not only tastes GOOD but will not turn you into a monster overnight?


  6. I found this essay sad. I don't say that to be condescending. I think the author is aware that she has disordered eating patterns, but there was so much more here in the way she seeks to appeal to men who prize feminine thinness and smallness and weakness before health or beauty or joie de vivre. Not all men desire thinness or frailness, but once one becomes thin or frail, the men that do prize those qualities show up. And rather than seeing the beauty that other men once saw in the author, these men only see smallness. And somehow this is validating in a way that she hasn't before experienced.

    I'm not sure why the author became "more visible" after becoming, it is implied, underweight, but I don't think this is a universal experience. I've never been thin to the point of frailness, but I've been thin and I've been plump, but either way I've been highly visible to men and treated as desirable. Nor were there different classes of men desiring me at those different times. There may be a privilege linked to body type--I am distinctly hourglass. There may be a privilege in being perceived of as beautiful--I am considered beautiful so I don't have to be thin. But I am sure that the men who want only a small woman, one who is unmuscled and slight, have never bothered with me much anyway. Though some have, as attraction cannot be purely controlled and what is desirable is more than a set of adjectives.

    I think it's worth considering what we lose when we wage a desperate fight to be thin. The practices described here will only keep a body thin for the short-term. Constantly exercising while avoiding wholesome fats such as those found in egg yolks and butter will break down the body composition over time. Unless calories are eventually restricted more and exercise time is increased, weight will creep up. It's very depressing to read about so much effort put into maintaining a body that is stressed and not at all well-nourished. Iceberg lettuce? There's no nutrition there, and young women have intense nutritional needs due to our cycles and childbearing roles. What if this leads to infertility? Premature aging? Brittle bones? Those men who prize thinness will be gone because they want a thin women who is fertile and youthful and smooth-skinned with a pert, round ass. Our bodies need fat-soluble vitamins for beauty, fertility, and health. This is just so sad.

  7. I relate to this post very much. When I was in my late twenties, I started counting calories and lost 100 pounds in about a year, dropping from a size 18 to a size 0. The positive attention was almost overwhelming, even if it wasn't particularly surprising. Meanwhile, I had become deeply disordered in my relationship to food and exercise and spent an inordinate amount of time preoccupied with my weight. I would become extremely anxious when I couldn't accurately measure my caloric intake and therefore avoided situations where I couldn't make an accurate count. Luckily I was already working with a therapist who recognized what was going on and worked with me to let go of my more destructive behaviors. I did gain about 20 pounds back over the last few years and I would be lying if I said I didn't still struggle with the urge to restrict again, but I know that I'm better off not letting skinniness take over my life. I really hope you are able to find the strength and support to fight back against this sometimes intoxicating, but ultimately destructive, mindset, Alana.

    1. What a great piece, and thanks also for posting comments that show your present views on the vigilance and the behaviours that are needed to maintain a size "0."

      After having children I effortlessly returned to and maintained what I thought was a "natural" weight for me - a size 8 - until I sought and found a lot of comfort in food and red wine during a very difficult period of my life. I gained 45 pounds and a belly that prompted many congratulations and some more discreet inquiries about when I was expecting - one person even insisted that I "could be pregnant and just know it" after I said that I wasn't.

      Now I'm trying to lose it, by watching portion sizes and making healthier choices when I can and when I'm so inclined, and I've lost 10 pounds, in contrast to a friend who's bought a food scale and uses a calorie counter and does exercise religiously out of a stated belief that she needs to atone for her days of indulgence. I'm vigilant now only about why I'm reaching for that glass of wine, and I notice that the exercise classes I've signed up for and always arrive late to don't make me as happy as walking around the city, any city, for hours and don't lift my mood as being outside and noticing what's around me. The steps I take seem to settle what's rattling around in mind and help me take an outward looking view on life for a while.

  8. See, now I was notified of this post by the remarkable Jennie Saia, who seems to have something of a soapbox when it comes to body image, and in particular, women feeling good about theirs - so I approached it with trepidation and caution, wondering if it would be another hopeful but unlikely-to-really-help entreaty for women to accept themselves, whatever size they are, and just appreciate and enjoy the good things about being alive, and to surround themselves with people who share similar values.

    The fact of the matter is, I read this with envy, because much as I would like to be thinner (and am trying to be, and have succeeded, to an extent, having dropped from a US 14 to a US 10 (still too embarrassing to write those larger numbers in my native UK sizing method)) I know that I don't have the strength of character or willpower to develop a full-blown obsession over it. I genuinely do enjoy food and can't be bothered counting calories.

    There are days this bugs me more than others. But I have definitely noticed that I get more compliments now I am thinner - the visibility is DEFINITELY there, but interestingly, mostly from women. And I can only assume that when they say "you look very thin", in spite of the fact that some are thinner than I am, it's just that they're USED to seeing me fat. That is their perspective of me, because it's how I used to be. And I'm glad it's changing, and being noticed.

    But more could be done. Not to this level, perhaps (and I wouldn't say it's a disorder unless it's actually damaging, or getting in the way of everyday life) because I just...well, I'm too lazy to get that thin...but further and better than I've done so far.

    And sod the frailness. I'm happy to build muscle. Because I'm not very feminine and that pisses me the hell off, too, and so dammit I can at least be STRONG.

    1. Developing a "full-blown obsession" over food is really not a matter of "strength of character or willpower" -- at least not necessarily. In my experience, it was more like someone flipped a switch in my head and I couldn't switch it back off without tons of help.

      Continue to enjoy food and don't bother counting calories, but don't put people with disordered eating patterns on a pedestal, either! Being thin (or thinner) is socially rewarded, but isn't necessarily personally rewarding if it comes as the result of disordered thinking. I still perceived myself as fat even as I verged on underweight, no matter how many people told me how great I looked.

      Focus on your health, on getting strong, on enjoying how you look in clothing, on experiencing the movements of your body, etc. etc. But don't think that you are lazy or lack willpower just because you haven't developed the kind of obsession with being thin that that the author describes. It isn't virtuous, it isn't pleasant, and it isn't satisfying.

    2. I wear a JBrand size 22 - and while everyone is different, just saying its possible to be super lazy and skinny. Used to be 73 lbs heavier and I've forgotten to weigh in a month/hardly even note what I eat. I'm shocked about this as I expected the opposite, but eventually I settled into a maintenance where I don't even think about maintenance, I just think about other things in my life. Still love food as well, the only thing I do differently is I don't really eat too much of the heavy stuff except for big occassions which I feared would be a big sacrifice, but absolutely no biggie now. Plus, it saves money. I also weight train and the muscle look is dependent on frame. Some women bulk some don't Nobody can guess that I can lift a single thing. I think the author of the article assumes too much about bulking - you have to eat big to bulk and also be of a particular frame and usually even with moderate bulking its hardly a degree of muscle where anyone would think wow she's a real hulk

  9. The entire time I read this post, all I could think about was how, despite having had my body type my whole life, I've never received romantic attention and often have to convince myself that lots of women are considered desirable with this body type [due in large part to fatphobia] even though I'm not sought after and yet I've been thin my whole life.

    But, this creates a conversation around how thinness is treated (or perceived) among different racial (and ethnic) groups. There are definitely posts about the experiences of thin black women, and how they often struggle with the cultural narrative that they should be an hour-glass (or a particular type of pear shape). Whereas for white women, the boy-ish, "waif" type of thinness is considered the ideal type while hour-glass women are more or less the exception.

    At least, that's what this post makes me think of. As someone who has never been larger than a size 0 (or a 2/3 before vanity sizing), I don't know what it's like to be larger, and then to drop pounds and suddenly become more desirable (though, a black lesbian I know talked about how much more popular she became - particularly with masculine of center women - after she gained weight and became much curvier).

  10. This article makes me realize that when you "win" (against your body's natural inclinations) you're still not "winning" simply because you sound joyless. How much effort from strong intelligent women is wasted on maintaining an unrealistic ideal set out by men, or women who place their self worth in vanity? Couldn't this calorie counting/exercise obsession fuel something better, like more political empowerment of women? Or even investing in yourself in some other way like building up a retirement fund, or acquiring a new skill. As someone who naturally is a slim petite ideal, I find it just throws me regularly into the company of assholes who regard me as an ego-stroking object/trophy arm candy who isn't allowed to have any needs/wants/desires of my own. I was much happier with the man who I ate homemade tiramisu with for breakfast, than the man who told me I wasn't allowed to "get fat" if we got married.

  11. This article sounds like you got in my head and wrote it for me. Scary but comforting at the same time - cc

  12. I read this article and thought it was brilliant. I loved your writing style, your vocabulary, and, of course, your ideas. I disagree with Rachel that you have an eating disorder if only because I took an entire seminar on eating disorders, and in order for something to be considered a "disorder" it must be "deviant." Your thoughts and feelings on the female body are the opposite of "deviant", they are ordinary, common, and encouraged by American society. You're expressing exactly what we're programmed to feel every day by the media and by male patriarchy. I love you response to those things and your analysis of it. I, myself, used to be a 0 and am now an 8. It's a shocking difference for someone who has been thin her entire life. I, too, feel like I'm in a different country. I tell myself that it shouldn't matter, and that beauty comes at all shapes and sizes, but that doesn't mean that society, or even my family, agrees. Nothing was more telling than when I took my overweight grandmother out for lunch one day. We were sitting there, and she looked at me and told me, "You are gaining too much weight." I was stunned. My grandmother can't fit into my clothes, and she's supposed to love me, but I here I was, on a Sunday morning, being confronted with the truth. My family, let alone society, couldn't stomach my new stomach. I think you're right to say that staying thin is a brutal task, but that women are expected to be aesthetic monsters - capable of staying thin in convenient and pretty ways. I will definitely share this article.

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  15. Wow, what an amazing post. I have taken the liberty of posting the URL to a weight-loss-maintainer's forum I belong to. On that forum, I and many others have repeatedly discussed the question of where to draw the line between the necessary vigilance required to prevent weight regain and having an eating disorder. Our consensus is that, to be a successful weight loss maintainer you must develop habits that, based on textbook criteria, will be labelled disordered eating. Except - and this is crucial- without the "disordered" eating (and exercise vigilance) WE WOULD BE UNSUCCESSFUL WEIGHT MAINTAINERS. The way I see it, the only difference between you and me (or anyone of my "3 Fat Chicks" maintainers friends) is that your successful weight maintenance happened at a young-enough age, and to a low-enough weight, that you ended up "super hot" while our IDENTICALLY OBSESSIVE EFFORTS only get us to average, tolerable, "adequate" levels of attractiveness. So, to add an additional painful wrinkle to your already less-than-satisfying dilemma of having to expend a lot of effort without seeming to expend it in order to look great, we 40, 50 and 60-somethings (I'm 48) have to expend all that effort, also without admitting to doing it, and end up looking only average. Ouch. And, oh yeah, if we ease off the quasi-obsessive efforts to stay thin(her), we end up, not average like you started out, but overweight again, with all the issues of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other negative health effects that the medical establishment informs us DAILY is what’s killing us as a society. What’s worse, an eating disorder or dying young of heart disease and diabetes?

  16. Thank you for this post. Funny, I found this from another site that warned that this was a very triggering post. I didn't find it so, but I've not been diagnosed with an ED before either. I pretty much share your story except that I was as much as 100 pounds heavier than at my thinnest, when people said I looked gaunt and unwell. (and I'm 49 yrs old and married).

    I noticed a lot more men (young men even) noticing me when I was about a size 8/10 which for me is very lean. Like you, I needed constant vigilance with exercise and calorie-restriction/dieting/Intermittent fasting etc. And I was MISERABLE. I knew I couldn't hold onto this unrealistic body weight (for me), and I decided to stop the obsessing and listen to my hunger after about 8 yrs of keeping thin.

    Well, not shocking- I've gained weight- not even sure how much- 30 pounds perhaps? Sure enough, the teenage boys and hot men don't pay attention to me anymore, but it doesn't bother me. I am so much happier and able to be mentally present in my day-to-day activities rather than avoid social situations and count calories in my head while I'm supposed to be listening to a friend.

    I don't like being heavier (about a us 14). But I honestly wouldn't trade it for being thin and miserable. As I've 'crossed over' from caring about my holy-grail thin-ness to just caring about my well-being, i wonder if that's why I didn't find this post triggering. Rather, it confirms what I've learned over 40 yrs of being on or off a diet. Now I'm ready to just "be". Thank you for vocalizing what many of us know to be true.

    On another note, I also hope that you find a good man- he won't be the one complimenting you on your clavicles either.

  17. Even if you get more guys by being thin, it doesn't mean they treat you any better. I think that was what I found the most horrifying: that someone with so much choice was dating such jerks AND dancing around them like this.

    I'm fine with the author wanting to eat as she does and why she does. I'm not fine with her hiding it from her dates: I feel very bad for her and I would like her to meet someone who accepts her as she is, decisions and all.

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